Even if you aren’t the kind of person who tends to get caught up in hype, you have to admit that last year’s Princess and the Frog made for a pretty killer story. The studio that invented longform animation, then abandoned it for CGI, returning to its classic roots…led by the guy who directed Toy Story and helped start sounding traditional animation’s death knell in the first place? What could be more perfect?
Well, in Disney’s eyes, the movie’s eventual $264 million worldwide gross could have been a little bigger — and as far as most critics were concerned, The Princess and the Frog was a solid, albeit disappointingly slight, effort that didn’t quite live up to its advance billing. (Not that anything could have, but whatever.) For a studio that spends an inordinate amount of effort trying to make filmgoers believe each of its releases is a certified classic (except Song of the South, right? Ha ha), the lavishly promoted Princess was a bit of an embarrassment.
Scrub away all that hype, though, and Princess is actually quite a bit of fun. If you’re the type of parent who, like me, sort of detests the whole Disney princess thing to begin with, the movie won’t do much to change your mind — despite a few surface changes to the studio’s formula, it’s very much the slice of happily-ever-after fairy tale that the title indicates — but it’s beautifully animated, with vibrant characters, gorgeous visuals, and a gently rollicking set of songs from one of my favorite artists of all time, Randy Newman. I mean, hey, it’s Disney. What exactly are you looking for, if not peerless craft in service of a storyline that probably doesn’t quite deserve it? Continue reading